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Deeplinks Archives

Deeplinks Archives


February 1, 2017 - 10:26am 94791

Online harassment is a serious problem. But censorship is not the solution. Thus, EFF has long opposed anti-harassment rules that would chill and punish lawful online speech. And courts have long struck down such laws for violating the First Amendment.

February 1, 2017 - 12:40pm 94796

The World Wide Web Consortium has just signaled its intention to deliberately create legal jeopardy for security researchers who reveal defects in its members' products, unless the security researchers get the approval of its members prior to revealing the embarrassing mistakes those members have made in creating their products. It's a move that will put literally billions of people at risk as researchers are chilled from investigating and publishing on browsers that follow W3C standards.

It is indefensible.

February 1, 2017 - 1:52pm 94798

A border agent holds up a smartphone, turning the screen red.Following President Trump’s confusing executive order on terrorism and immigration, reports surfaced over the weekend that border agents at airports were searching the cell phones of passengers arriving from the Middle East, including U.S.

February 2, 2017 - 11:39am 94817

New state bills that would create a database firewall between California and the federal government passed out of their respective Senate committees on Tuesday. Both are headed to the Appropriations Committee and then could soon see votes by the full California Senate. If passed, these critical bills would help prevent Muslim registries and mass deportations in California and would send a strong message to the Trump administration that Californians will resist his attacks on digital liberty.

February 2, 2017 - 2:36pm 94824

The Copyright Office, and those who lead it, should serve the public as a whole, not just major media and entertainment companies. That’s what we told the leadership of the House Judiciary Committee this week. If Congress restructures the Copyright Office, it has to put in safeguards against the agency becoming nothing more than a cheerleader for large corporate copyright holders.

February 2, 2017 - 4:03pm 94767

The last year has seen enormous progress in encrypting the web. Two categories in particular have made extraordinary strides: news sites and US government sites. The progress in those fields is due to months of hard work from many technologists; it can also be attributed in part to advocacy and sound policy.

Freedom of the Press Foundation has been leading the call for news organizations to implement HTTPS. In December 2016, it launched Secure the News, which tracks HTTPS deployment across the industry, grading sites on the thoroughness of their implementation.

February 2, 2017 - 5:12pm 94834

Perfect 10 just can’t seem to help itself.

In case you missed it, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed (yet another) crushing defeat to the adult website and serial copyright litigant Perfect 10, this time in its lawsuit against Usenet access provider Giganews. The Ninth Circuit soundly rejected each of Perfect 10’s claims – clarifying that yes, direct copyright infringement still requires some volitional conduct on the part of the defendant, and no, Giganews could not be held liable for contributory or vicarious copyright infringement either. We filed a brief arguing as much, and we’re happy the court agreed.

February 2, 2017 - 5:55pm 94835

Can foreign governments spy on Americans in America with impunity? That was the question in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Thursday, when EFF, human rights lawyer Scott Gilmore, and the law firms of Jones Day and Robins Kaplan went to court in Kidane v. Ethiopia.

February 5, 2017 - 9:40pm 94848

Everyone should be able to read the law, discuss it, and share it with others, without having to pay a toll or sign a contract. Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, a federal district court has said otherwise, ruling that private organizations can use copyright to control access to huge portions of our state and federal laws. The court ordered Public.Resource.Org to stop providing public access to these key legal rules.

February 6, 2017 - 2:03pm 94858

The Supreme Court already has a list of digital civil liberties issues to consider in the near future, and that list is likely to grow.

If confirmed, President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court—Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit—will be in a position to make crucial decisions affecting our basic rights to privacy, free expression, and innovation.


The Supreme Court is being asked to consider a pair of cases dealing with law enforcement obtaining cell phone location records: the U.S. v. Graham ruling out of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. v. Carpenter out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In both cases, the courts ruled that law enforcement did not need a warrant to obtain long-term, historical cell phone location data pinpointing a suspect’s location and movement.

February 6, 2017 - 2:25pm 94825

Have you ever violated a website’s terms of use, such as by using something other than your real name on a website that requires one, or by sharing your account password with a family member when doing so is prohibited? Probably. Have you ever clicked “I agree” without actually reading the terms in full? Again, highly likely. Violating corporate terms of use agreements should not be a crime—not only because people rarely read these agreements, but because the bounds of criminal law should not be defined by the preferences of website operators. And criminalizing terms of use violations would turn millions of people—practically all Internet users—into criminals on the basis of innocuous conduct.

February 6, 2017 - 4:24pm 94845

EFF recently received dozens of pages of documents in response to a FOIA request we submitted about Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice project to pressure banks and financial institutions into cutting off service to certain businesses. Unfortunately, the response from the Department of Justice leaves many questions unanswered.

EFF has been tracking instances of financial censorship for years to identify how online speech is indirectly silenced or intimidated by shuttering bank accounts, donation platforms, and other financial institutions.  The Wall Street Journal wrote about the Justice Department’s controversial and secretive campaign against financial institutions in 2013, and one Justice Department official quoted in the article stated:

February 6, 2017 - 6:21pm 94850

The Copyright Alert System has called it quits, but questions remain about what, if anything, will replace it. Known also as the “six strikes” program, the Copyright Alert System (CAS)  was a private agreement between several large Internet service providers (ISPs) and big media and entertainment companies, with government support. The agreement allowed the media and entertainmenet companies to monitor those ISPs' subscribers' peer-to-peer network traffic for potential copyright infringement, and imposed penalties on subscribers accused of infringing.

February 7, 2017 - 10:06am 94880

A mouse hovers over an open envelope.The House passed the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) yesterday, bringing us one step closer to requiring a warrant before law enforcement can access private communications and documents stored online with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Dropbox. But the fight is just beginning.

February 7, 2017 - 7:53pm 94896

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) just re-introduced their You Own Devices Act (YODA), a bill that aims to help you reclaim some of your ownership rights in the software-enabled devices you buy.

February 8, 2017 - 9:39am 94887

As a school librarian at a small K-12 district in Illinois, Angela K. is at the center of a battle of extremes in educational technology and student privacy.

On one side, her district is careful and privacy-conscious when it comes to technology, with key administrators who take extreme caution with ID numbers, logins, and any other potentially identifying information required to use online services. On the other side, the district has enough technology “cheerleaders” driving adoption forward that now students as young as second grade are using Google’s G Suite for Education.

February 9, 2017 - 10:21am 94907

President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the country’s law enforcement has cleared the Senate.

The Senate voted 52-47 on Wednesday to confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose record on civil liberties issues—including digital rights—has drawn fire from Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups.

EFF has expressed concerns about Sessions’ record on surveillance, encryption, and freedom of the press. Those concerns intensified during his confirmation process.

February 9, 2017 - 5:23pm 94914

Bad news for Internet users. In his first few days in office, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has shelved the Commission’s investigation into Internet companies’ zero-rating practices and whether they violate the Commission's Open Internet Order.

As recently as January, the FCC was rebuking AT&T (PDF) for seemingly prioritizing its own DirecTV content over that of its competitors. Now, Pai has made it clear that the FCC doesn’t plan to move forward with the investigation.

February 9, 2017 - 6:08pm 94900

EFF had high hopes that the Domain Name Association's Healthy Domains Initiative (HDI) wouldn't be just another secretive industry deal between rightsholders and domain name intermediaries. Toward that end, we and other civil society organizations worked in good faith on many fronts to make sure HDI protected Internet users as well.

February 10, 2017 - 10:10am 94919

A border agent examines a smartphone. Now more than ever, it is apparent that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are embarking on a broad campaign to invade the digital lives of innocent individuals.

February 10, 2017 - 11:58am 94922

Beginning March 1, FBI Will No Longer Accept FOIA Requests Via Email

It’s well documented that the FBI is keen on adopting new technologies that intrude on our civil liberties. The FBI’s enthusiasm for technology, however, doesn’t extend to tools that make it easier for the public to understand what the agency is up todespite such transparency being mandated by law.

February 13, 2017 - 3:51pm 94852

The San Jose City Council is considering a proposal to install over 39,000 “smart streetlights.” A pilot program is already underway. These smart streetlights are not themselves a surveillance technology. But they have ports on top that, in the future, could accommodate surveillance technology, such as video cameras and microphones.

EFF and our allies sent a letter to the San Jose City Council urging them to adopt an ordinance to ensure democratic control of all of that community’s surveillance technology decisions—including whether to plug spy cameras into the ports of smart streetlights.

February 13, 2017 - 4:30pm 94943

Imagine if someone, after reading something you wrote online that they didn’t agree with, decided to forge racist and anti-Semitic emails under your name. This appears to be what happened to J. Alex Halderman, a computer security researcher and professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. Halderman is one of many election security experts—along with EFF, of course—who has advocated for auditing the results of the 2016 presidential election. The recent attempts to smear his name in retaliation for standing up for election integrity are a threat to online free speech.

February 13, 2017 - 5:04pm 94945

On behalf of three national library associations, EFF today urged a federal appeals court for the second time to protect librarians’ and students’ rights to make fair use of excerpts from academic books and research.

February 15, 2017 - 7:05am 94960

Specifically targeting black children for unlawful DNA collection is a gross abuse of technology by law enforcement. But it’s exactly what the San Diego Police Department is doing, according to a lawsuit just filed by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties on behalf of one of the families affected. SDPD’s actions, as alleged in the complaint, illustrate the severe and very real threats to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights presented by granting law enforcement access to our DNA. SDPD must stop its discriminatory abuse of DNA collection technology.


February 16, 2017 - 11:44am 94964

A group of Mexican nutrition policy makers and public health workers have been the latest targets of government malware attacks. According to the New York Times, several public health advocates were targeted by spyware developed by NSO Group, a surveillance software company that sells its products exclusively to governments. The targets were all vocal proponents of Mexico’s 2014 soda tax—a regulation that the soda industry saw as a threat to its commercial interests in Mexico. 

February 16, 2017 - 3:58pm 94980

This Friday, EFF lawyers and other experts from the field will lead a conversation about constitutional law at the Internet Archive. The event is open to the public, totally free, and will stream live on Facebook for anybody who can't make it in person.

Come learn about censorship, surveillance, digital search and seizure, and more. Plus, if you can be there in person, there will be a potluck emphasizing apple pie.

Donations are welcome but not required. Details below.

When: Friday, February 17th 5:30pm-9pm (program 6-8)

February 17, 2017 - 1:55pm 94988

Last week, a federal court in Seattle issued a ruling in Microsoft’s ongoing challenge to the law that lets courts impose indefinite gag orders on Internet companies when they receive requests for information about their customers. Judge James Robart—he of recent Washington v. Trump fame—allowed Microsoft’s claim that the gags violate the First Amendment to proceed, denying the government’s motion to dismiss that claim. It’s an important ruling, with implications for a range of government secrecy provisions, including national security letters (NSLs). Unfortunately, the court also dismissed Microsoft’s Fourth Amendment claim on behalf of its users. 

When tech companies can’t tell users that the government is knocking

February 17, 2017 - 2:10pm 94990

Xilinx will get to fight patent troll in home court, but many troll targets will still be dragged to distant and inconvenient forums.

February 17, 2017 - 4:12pm 94994

Your smartphone, navigation system, fitness device, and more know where you are most of the time. Law enforcement should need a warrant to access the information these technologies track.

Lawmakers have a chance to create warrant requirements for the sensitive location information collected by your devices.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Reps. Jason Chaffetz and John Conyers reintroduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act (H.R. 1062) earlier this week. Congress should quickly move this bill and protect consumers’ privacy from warrantless searches. 

February 20, 2017 - 2:55pm 94956

Cable and telephone companies are pushing Congress to make it illegal for the federal government to protect online consumer privacy.

 an eyeball is shown beside the cellphone signal strength

February 21, 2017 - 9:04am 94993

Public submissions on the Australian Productivity Commission's proposal to introduce a fair use right into Australian copyright law have just closed, and Australian rightsholders are frothing at the mouth in their attempts to block this long-overdue reform.

February 21, 2017 - 2:35pm 95000

The movement to encrypt the web has reached a milestone. As of earlier this month, approximately half of Internet traffic is now protected by HTTPS. In other words, we are halfway to a web safer from the eavesdropping, content hijacking, cookie stealing, and censorship that HTTPS can protect against.

Mozilla recently reported that the average volume of encrypted web traffic on Firefox now surpasses the average unencrypted volume.

February 21, 2017 - 11:09pm 95006

This week Sen. Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly stating that he will soon introduce legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before searching the data on digital devices at the border. We applaud Sen. Wyden for taking a stand on this important privacy issue.

Sen. Wyden said that he wants to “guarantee that the Fourth Amendment is respected at the border.”

February 22, 2017 - 10:44am 95004

Case Study: the UK's Search Engine Voluntary Code of Practice

How do you tell the difference between a code of practice that responds to the needs of the Internet community as a whole, and a sweetheart deal cut between government and industry that avoids democratic accountability and sidelines users? This article reveals some of the telltale signs.

February 22, 2017 - 11:41am 95003

An essential principle of copyright law is under threat: the principle that a copyright cannot grant a monopoly over the idea of adding up numbers, drawing a design specified by the user, or moving a robot arm using the designer's movement commands. We are all free to write our own code to achieve the same functional results; copyright only monopolizes the creative expression – if any – in the written code that implements that idea.

SAS Institute would like to change that, harming all of us who rely upon competition in the tech sector and enjoy the benefits that come with it. EFF filed an amicus brief today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, urging the judges to protect interoperability, reverse engineering, and innovation by upholding traditional limits on the scope of copyright power.

February 22, 2017 - 12:10pm 95010

The “notice-and-takedown” process for addressing online copyright infringement isn’t perfect: it’s often abused to remove lawful speech from the Internet. But it many cases this process, described in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), works pretty well—particularly because of the safe harbors that protect Internet services that comply with the law. That’s why it’s so frustrating that major media and entertainment companies are still pushing the Copyright Office to recommend throwing away the safe harbors and instead order Internet platforms to filter users’ communications.

February 22, 2017 - 2:31pm 95031

Major entertainment companies are once again trying to expand copyright law to gain leverage over a wide variety of user-generated content sites. If they succeed, they would have a veto over Internet users’ access to the tools that allow us to remix, mashup, and participate in popular culture. EFF, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Public Knowledge, filed an amicus brief in the case of BWP Media v. Polyvore, urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to defend copyright law’s important protections for user-generated content platforms.

February 22, 2017 - 3:54pm 95028

EFF urged the Supreme Court of Virginia today to protect the state's residents from a police surveillance database created with automated license plate readers (ALPRs).

We've been following law enforcement use of ALPR technology a long time, because the information that these readers collect can reveal sensitive details about our lives. Police departments that use ALPRs mount them on patrol cars or on stationary objects and leave them on all the time, meaning that the police can learn where we are and when, whether it’s at our house of worship, our doctor’s office, or a political meeting, and the police can track this data over time.

February 22, 2017 - 5:16pm 94933

A bipartisan Congressional committee’s recent report showcases troubling details about police abuse of cell-site simulators, and calls on Congress to pass laws ensuring that this powerful technology is only deployed with a court-issued probable cause warrant.

Cell-site simulators, often called IMSI catchers or Stingrays, masquerade as cell phone towers and trick our phones into connecting to them so police can track down suspect targets, but their use also collects the data and location of innocent bystanders and extracts unnecessary sensitive data in the process.

February 23, 2017 - 10:59pm 95055

Update February 28, 2017: Unfortunately, the Montana House Judiciary Committee tabled H.B. 518 on February 27. We look forward to working to pass it next year.

Legislatures around the country are beginning to acknowledge the threat to our privacy presented by companies collecting and using our biometric information—the physical and behavioral characteristics that make us unique. Following on a biometric privacy law passed in Illinois in 2008, lawmakers in Montana are aiming to make Big Sky Country the latest state to enact protections for our faces, fingerprints, irises, and other biometric markers.

February 24, 2017 - 9:39am 95056

Dot-Org Registry Suspends Secretive Copyright-Policing Plan

Yesterday, the group that runs the .org top-level domain announced that they will suspend their plans to create a new, private, problematic copyright enforcement system. That’s welcome news for tens of millions of nonprofits, charities, businesses, clubs, bloggers, and personal website owners that use .org. It’s also surprising, because most of those Internet users had no idea that a new copyright system, strongly reminiscent of the failed SOPA/PIPA Internet censorship bills, might be forced on them.

February 24, 2017 - 10:21am 95050

The idea that you don’t need a subject’s permission to report on them is fundamental to a free press. If a powerful or influential person, or company, could veto any coverage they don’t like, or make sure any embarrassing or incriminating statements disappear, there’d be little point to having a news media at all. Journalism relies on fair use, the idea that you can use a copyrighted work (like a video or audio clip, or piece of text) in certain ways without the copyright holder’s permission.  Indeed, the section of U.S. law that defines fair use even explicitly calls out its importance to news reporting and commentary.

If we want to protect free and independent journalism, then we need to protect and strengthen fair use.

February 24, 2017 - 12:08pm 95047

Next week the latest round of secret negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) kicks off in Kobe, Japan. Once the shy younger sibling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the recent death of the TPP has thrust RCEP further into the spotlight, and raised the stakes both for its sixteen prospective parties, and for lobbyists with designs to stamp their own mark on the text's intellectual property and e-commerce chapters.

February 24, 2017 - 1:30pm 95053

On February 23rd, a joint team from the CWI Amsterdam and Google announced that they had generated the first ever collision in the SHA-1 cryptographic hashing algorithm. SHA-1 has long been considered theoretically insecure by cryptanalysts due to weaknesses in the algorithm design, but this marks the first time researchers were actually able to demonstrate a real-world example of the insecurity.

February 24, 2017 - 2:26pm 95070

Throughout human history, culture has been made by people telling one another stories, building on what has come before, and making it their own. Every generation, every storyteller puts their own spin on old tales to reflect their own values and changing times.

This creative remixing happens today and it happens in spite of the legal cloud cast by copyright law.  Many of our modern cultural icons are “owned” by a small number of content companies. We rework popular stories to critique them or assign new meanings to them, telling our own stories about well-known characters and settings. When copyright holders try to shut us down, fair use helps us fight back.

Here are just a few ways remixers are taking culture into their own hands:

* Fan fiction – Kirk and Spock can be gay and Uhura can captain the Enterprise, or that boa constrictor from the zoo scene can become Harry’s familiar instead of taking off for Brazil.

February 24, 2017 - 2:45pm 95071

Talking about fair use often means talking about your right to re-use existing copyrighted works in the process of making something new  - to make remixes and documentaries, parodies, or even to build novel Internet search tools. But now that copyright-protected software is in almost everything (including our cars, our toasters, our pacemakers and our insulin pumps) fair use has a new critically important role: basic consumer protection.

February 27, 2017 - 9:32am 95080

EFF, Amnesty International, Color of Change, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and our other coalition partners are urging data brokers to take a stand against government surveillance and discrimination based on religion, national origin, and immigration status.

As explained in a joint statement released today, data brokers collect and analyze huge amounts of personal data that could easily be used to identify and profile and track people in violation of their basic human rights.

EFF and our allies are calling on data brokers to disclose whether they’ve received government requests for their data, and to make the following pledge:

February 28, 2017 - 3:40pm 95095

Update: March 1, 2017 Today IBM told Ars Technica that it "has decided to dedicate the patent to the public" and it filed a formal disclaimer at the Patent Office making this dedication. While this is just one patent in IBM's massive portfolio, we are glad to learn that it has declared it will not enforce its patent on out-of-office email.

On January 17, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM a patent on an out-of-office email system. Yes, really.

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